Judge Blocks State Ban on Sexual Orientation Conversion Treatment
However, U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb limited the scope of the ruling to three providers of the therapy who are participating in the lawsuit (Slosson, Reuters, 12/4).Â
In September, Gov. Jerry Brown (D)Â signed SB 1172, by Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), making California the first U.S. state to banÂ conversion treatment.
Supporters of theÂ law say the therapy has no medical benefits and can lead to depression and suicide.
OpponentsÂ argue thatÂ the law is unconstitutional because it undermines privacy and parental rights, as well as the First Amendment.
The law is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2013 (California Healthline, 10/2).
Details of Lawsuit
Pacific Justice Institute -- a Christian legal group -- filed a lawsuit opposing SB 1172 on behalf of psychiatrist Anthony Duk, marriage and family therapist Donald Welch and counselor-in-training Aaron Bitzer.
Details of Ruling
In his ruling, Shubb said that the First Amendment rights of psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health providers outweigh concerns that the therapy poses a danger to teens.
He wrote, "Even if SB 1172 is characterized as primarily aimed at regulating conduct, it also extends to forms of (conversion therapy) thatÂ utilize speech and, at a minimum, regulates conduct that has an incidental effect on speech."
Shubb also disputed lawmakers' findings that the conversion treatment puts teens at risk for suicide or depression, saying they were taken from "questionable and scientifically incomplete studies" (Leff, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 12/3).
The injunction will be in place until the lawsuit is resolved or a settlement is reached (Walsh, Sacramento Bee, 12/4).
Reaction to Ruling
Brad Dacus -- president of the Pacific Justice Institute -- said, "We know we will have to have another hearing on the merits [of the lawsuit], but to be able to get a preliminary injunction at this stage is very telling as to the final outcome, and I'm very encouraged by it."Shannon Minter -- legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights -- said, "We are disappointed by the ruling but very pleased that the temporary delay in implementing this important law applies only to the three plaintiffs who brought this lawsuit," adding, "We are confident that as the case progresses, it will be clear to the court that this law is fundamentally no different than many other laws that regulate health care professionals to protect patients" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 12/3). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.